Friday, April 12, 2019

The Abysmal Rabbithole of Higher Ed Corruption

By Professor Doom

     I’ve written before the college paper writing scam, where a significant portion of college papers are written by ghost writers. Every few years, one of these ghost writers “spills the beans,” exposing just how easy this is to do.

      Back when college classes had 25 students or less, when faculty weren’t teaching half a dozen or more such classes a semester, it wasn’t nearly so easy to do this. Faculty had time to ask for a few “in class” writing assignments…a student who was barely literate in class will have a hard time explaining those eloquent papers submitted from home. Now that classes are huge and workloads heavy, a professor really doesn’t have time to assign much writing, and certainly doesn’t have the time to call students in for private conversations about the material of the papers they’ve submitted.

     This isn’t just at the undergraduate level; I’ve seen quite a few PhD-holders, English as their first language, who can barely compose a coherent paragraph…I suspect the problem is common enough that this is the reason I never see a campus faculty message board.

       Anyway, a few years have passed, and so it must be time for another ghost writer to come forward. Gentle readers, I introduce to you Jaimie Leigh. I don’t completely buy everything she has to say…but nevertheless I’ll add some details:

I think a lot of people seriously have no idea how thoroughly the system is rigged. I spent several years as a for-hire writer who couldn’t afford to turn work away. This means I accepted a lot of jobs I feel icky about now, but it also means that I’ve seen firsthand how this all shakes out.

     The for-hire paper writing business isn’t just for college, high school students also need “help,” particularly when it comes time to submit writing samples to those few campuses with admissions requirements.

See, getting little Asshole McGloatyFace III into Harvard is just the first domino en route to prestige and pedigree.

     She’ll refer to McGloatyFace often in her rant, and tries to make it a racial thing. It’s really a money thing. As long as there are limited resources (in this case, college admissions), the wealthy are going to use their advantages to get more of those resources.

The richest of rich parents get him there by donating a library collection or buying a building.

       Now, I don’t think it’s unfair the wealthy hiring tutors for the kids, or buying them extra books, or even by making a large donation to the school. The ranter here disagrees, but, if the school managed those donations wisely (instead of admin pouring the money into their own pockets), it could easily provide scholarships to the poor-but-qualified kids. This is, in fact, how things often worked in higher ed in times past, when schools were run by educators. Today’s admin don’t think like educators…because they aren’t educators.

       Please understand, to some extent we’ve always had this system: rich-but-unqualified paid tuition, poor-but-talented got scholarships. The student loan scam killed that system, since the loans went “to everyone,” which sounded fair. Like the rich were going to take out loans…

The lowly rich hire people like me to write their kids’ essays and letters, pull together their resumes, and figure out how to make years of abject mediocrity sound good. And they don’t only hire people like me. They also hire special tutors and test prep gurus to teach their kids to hack the tests. They pull strings to get their kids special accommodations they don’t need, so they have more time to get all the math problems done on the SAT. They get interview coaches who teach their kids what to say when they go for their appointment.

      The author lumps all these “advantages” together, and some of these are fraud, while others? So what if they hire an interview coach, there really is always going to be something the rich can buy which the poor cannot…it’s what makes the rich, rich.

When Asshole McGloatyFace is in school, his parents hire people like me again. Want to know how many papers I’ve written for undergraduate students? Graduate students? I couldn’t even tell you. It’s a higher number than I can remember offhand. Need a magic paper to save your grade in the class you’re failing? Need to save your half-assed thesis? I’ve done it all. I’m a better-than-average writer and I made my clients look good.

      We really need to ask some hard questions about a higher education system where the professors simply don’t know their students well enough, not even at the graduate level, to tell when a paper has been ghost-written (allow me to distinguish this from plagiarism).

       Of course, there’s more to it than that. I was punished for catching cheaters, and I’m hardly the only faculty who’ve gotten the memo. You can’t fail a cheater, you see…he’ll trash you on the student evaluations, and admin gets rid of faculty with low evaluations. You can’t remove a cheater from your class, because admin isn’t about to reduce the number of sweet, sweet, student loan checks coming in.

      Bottom line, faculty don’t dare catch cheaters, and admin doesn’t want them caught. In a system like this, how is it a surprise that cheating is rampant?

      Past this point, the author rants about how once McGloatyface leaves college, he continues to buy advantages, using his wealth to generate more wealth, which he then spends on his children to repeat the cycle.

      And this is where I stop buying her story. See, there’s considerable evidence of turnover in the upper/middle/lower classes. The bulk of CEOs (70%), even at huge corporations, don’t even come from the Ivy League. Yes, the wealthy have an advantage…but it’s not insurmountable. The bulk of our professional athletes sure didn’t come from the Ivy League, either.

      I should also point out: all the money the wealthy spend on coaches, mentors, tutors and whatnot? That’s employing our middle class.

       But the fact remains: we really need to re-examine our higher education system which allows such a professional class of cheaters to exist.


  1. "I should also point out: all the money the wealthy spend on coaches, mentors, tutors and whatnot? That’s employing our middle class."

    Reading this paragraph made me think that this whole scam thing is not that bad. After all it creates new employment or so to say new economic sector. You can say it's just another part of economic cycle.

    1. In Ye Olden days, the only way scholars could exist was if they found a wealthy patron to support them. This sort of thing really has always been around. Yes, there are excesses worth stopping, but, in general, we should just accept that the wealthy are not fundamentally evil.

  2. I think that story is a fraud. The writer sounds like an ordinary writer, not some 'highly trained' scholar. I used to edit stories and other documents due to my father-in-law was a NY City publisher. It was very boring and paid poorly so I went into the much more lucative housebuilding/construction/teaching business instead.

    Real editors are hard to find. Bad editors are easy to find. And editing is rapidly dying, even major publications are now riddled with editing failures and outright silly mistakes. But then, it is all fake news these days.

  3. Producing papers for lazy/dumb students: these tend to be 'generic' junk written some time ago and sold to various parties. Since schools no longer pursue students using junk from the internet (paid or freebies) everyone has pretty much given up on doing real learning.

    Professors could stop this fraud simply by requesting, without warning, that students produce at least 1,000 word essays about their 'papers' they are 'working on' while in the classroom. The really dumb ones will fail.

    But as you note here, Doom, this means kicking the cheaters out of school. Way back when I was in college in the late 1960's to the mid-1970's, we could and did do this sort of thing.

    But back then, our schools were not over 60% female, they were actually around nearly 70% male. This is another interesting topic and I hope you can talk about this some more.

    1. I'm not convinced the higher proportion of cheating relates to the higher proportion of females on campus.
      The higher proportion of cheating is almost certainly due to the "growth is everything" mentality of our "leaders" in higher education. They encourage cheating, so there's more of it.
      The higher proportion of females is less easily/confidently explained. I find it likely lack of financial acumen is the largest factor (art students tend to bury themselves in debt for much the same reason). Males do the cost/benefit analysis and are more likely to walk away. An additional factor is many campuses are clearly male-hostile, again causing males to drift away from college.

    2. I think you are on to something there, Doom. I teach in the Humanities, and often I am the only straight white male in the room. One survey I saw suggested that in the UK, the salary premium for women for having a degree was about 23% but only 8% for men. Well, once you strip out STEM subjects at the better universities, there is not much financial gain — if any — left for men.

      This is not going to win me any Brownie points with the SJW brigade, but some female students have told me straight that they have no intention of working much after graduating. They want to start a family as soon as they can. Since UK graduates don't start paying back their loans unless they earn almost an average full-time wage, a woman who does that is pretty much getting an education for free from the taxpayer.

      Despite the differences in the two systems of financing higher education, I think the US and UK have the same solution — colleges and universities return the loans that their graduates cannot pay.

  4. The man walking down the street never knew he was being watched, that a gang of men were laying a trap for him, so that by the time he discovered his dilemma, he was dead.
    We are today, the walking dead, our children so brainwashed, so insane, they hate us for what, we never did.
    The children's education today, like ours, in the Government Schools, a mess of Jewish left overs from Europe, Freudian idiocy, Darwin and Copernicus foolishness, the worship of Einstein and Salk.
    It is over, any hope we had is gone, like in the USSR, our executioners, will be our own (brainwashed/religious) people.

  5. Both of you are correct. The 'benefit' of college in the 1960's for young men was very obvious: NO DRAFT!!! When I was a student back when the deferment was eliminated suddenly, I was working in the antiwar office off campus and within minutes of the announcement, a flood of young men including the University of Arizona president of the Student Council came into my office, yelling, 'What can we do?' and...we got very active and this led to the end of the Draft.

    Today, colleges wreck men, misteach men, abuse men especially white men. Black men aren't going, either, for a variety of reasons especially the problem of no more discipline in black schools leading to raising criminals instead of citizens. This scam is destroying black men even worse than white males.

    1. That is, Doom and Philip are 'both correct'. I goofed in placing the comment or rather, I hit 'reply' but had to reload the page.